First domestic Group One in sight for Arc hope Alpinista

Mon 15 Aug 2022

Sir Mark Prescott’s Alpinista will bid to claim a fifth successive Group One title in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday.

The grey is a Group One winner in both France and Germany, taking a trio of top-flight races in the latter country last season when landing the Grosser Preis von Berlin, the Preis von Europa and the Grosser Preis Von Bayern.

The first race in that sequence was later subject to a high-profile form boost as the runner-up, Marcel Weiss’ Torquator Tasso, went on to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at the end of the term.

Alpinista began this season later than intended, but her return to action proved worth the wait when she was a ready winner of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in early July, prevailing by a length and a quarter from a competitive field of nine.

The five-year-old will now return to the Knavesmire for the Yorkshire Oaks, a 12-furlong event in which she finished second behind Aidan O’Brien’s Love last season.

Victory in the race, part of the Qipco British Champions Series, would earn Alpinista a domestic top-level prize to complement her European titles and would be of great value to owner-breeder Kirsten Rausing, who has owned five generations of the bloodline.

“We’ve had some great days with this filly and hopefully we can have another one on Thursday,” said William Butler, assistant trainer to Prescott.

“People knocked her German form until we got to the Arc and people woke up then!

“She got real credit for how she won at Saint-Cloud, she really caught everyone’s imagination there.”

The Arc is the ultimate aim for the season, a race Butler made a case for last year as he pondered the merit of a supplementary entry.

“I won’t lie to you, the Arc came into my thoughts at the end of last year,” he said.

“I felt the race, on paper, looked very hot with Derby winners and St Leger winners but I just thought ‘we’re in very good form. We’ve won two Group Ones, should we be half-thinking of supplementing?’.

“Quite rightly, Mark and Miss Rausing decided to be level and go for the third Group One in Germany.

“The whole aim this year has been to work back from the Arc, she’s got going a bit later this year than we wanted, we wanted to start in the Coronation but our horses just weren’t right.

“We held fire and the Arc was always going to be the aim.”

The Yorkshire Oaks must be tackled first and though the forecast looks unpredictable with thunderstorms set to end the current heatwave, Butler is backing the mare to handle whatever conditions may materialise.

“She’s professional, reliable, she’s shown a great turn of foot in France the last time. I’ve been of the opinion that on fast ground, she’s special, but we’ve not always seen that,” he said.

“You saw it at Salisbury in the Listed race (Upavon Stakes) and at Hoppegarten last year when she beat the subsequent Arc winner.

“Everybody made excuses that day but I don’t think there were any, she quickened up down by the winning post and she galloped right through the line. The placed horses weren’t getting her, if anything she was getting further and further away.

“On slower ground she still gets it done. If I could have ideal conditions for Thursday then I would wish it wouldn’t rain as there are bits of rain forecast, but we will take whatever comes.

“There’s a great saying that every time a horse goes down to the start, a little bit of you goes with the horse and it feels like that at the moment.”

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